Keftedes, Greek meatballs is the first Greek dish I ever learnt to make as a young girl. Hours spent in the kitchen watching my mum cook Greek food is how I learnt to cook, it’s where I got my love of cooking and it’s how I learnt how to cook Greek food. Keftedes were a staple mid-week dinner for us, served alongside some potatoes or pasta and a salad. Keftedes are also a great party food, they’re versatile, easily transportable if you’re taking them to someone’s house and a very popular buffet food making an appearance in many a Greek household especially recently with it being Greek Easter.
Whenever I’ve asked my mum “how do you make this mum, can you give me the ingredients and measurements” she looks at me perplexed, “there are never measurements” she says “it’s all by eye” and you’ll find many Greek women of that generation and older who will say the same thing so don’t even bother asking. Just go along to a Greek household and watch and watch very well. It’s how I learnt to cook, though when I watched my mum, I always had a pad and pen ready to take down measurements as best as I could judge. So, it gives me great pleasure to share with you my Keftedes recipe. This makes an appearance at least one a month in my house, they’re part of a meal that everyone loves. Young children love them because they’re essentially meatballs – balls of meat deep fried made always with pork mince and lots of other flavourings and herbs, what’s not to love. Don’t try to make them with any other mince, beef for example, it’s just not the same and quite horrid to be honest, I’ve had them made with half pork and half beef and they’re just not authentic Keftedes.
Not to be confused with Italian meatballs which are served with tomato sauce and maybe pasta, these are dry and just perfect. My family love them so much, I double the mixture so there are plenty of leftovers if any of the kids are peckish way past my bedtime or the next day in a lunch box as they’re just as nice cold. I would advise if you don’t already have one, buy a deep fat fryer, it makes the job so much quicker and less fiddly because you can fry the lot in 2-3 batches. Lay them on a dish lined with plenty of kitchen paper to absorb any leftover oil. My kids suddenly make an appearance in the kitchen when I’m frying them to “steal” a couple, they think I’m not looking but I always know!! Now, I don’t mind letting them have a couple because they love them when they’re piping hot. I serve my Keftedes as part of a meal with pasta topped with plenty of parmesan and a good Greek salad.
KEFTEDES (GREEK MEATBALLS)
If you have any stale bread, make homemade breadcrumbs and keep some in a freezer bag in the freezer to use for this recipe and many others. If you defrost a bag of breadcrumbs and don't use all of them, pop them back in the freezer, it's absolutely fine to re-freeze defrosted breadcrumbs. Using a deep fat fryer is so much easier, never leave it unattended and always take great care especially when there are young children around.
- 1 pack 500g pork mince
- 2 large or 3 medium potatoes
- 20g flat leaf parsley, chopped
- 1 onion, finely chopped
- 1 egg
- 50g fresh breadcrumbs see summury notes below
- 1/2 to 1 tsp ground cinnamon I like to use 1 tsp, your choice
- salt and a good grinding of pepper
Place the pork mince in a large bowl and grate the potatoes on the finest side of the grater, you need the potato to be like a puree rather than visible strings., combine.
Add the finely chopped onion and parsley followed by the salt, pepper and cinnamon (to your taste) I like cinnamon so I use a teaspoon but it's an acquired taste, cinnamon is widely used in Greek/mediterranean cooking.
Finally, add the egg (no need to whisk) and breadcrumbs and combine really well. Check the seasoning and adjust if necessary. Have a dish lined with kitchen paper ready and get your deep fat fryer to a temperature of 140 degrees on the temperature dial.
Make balls of mixture using a tablespoon as a guide. You can make them all in advance or just make enough carefully dropping them into the deep fat fryer, don't overcrowd them, you can do this in 3 batches if you need to. Fry the balls until golden and they're beginning to rise to the surface, the fizzing of the oil has stopped too.
Gently remove the Keftedes from the hot oil being very careful, you can use the deep fat fryer basket when frying, just makes it easier to drain the meatballs after cooking. Lay the keftedes on a dish lined with kitchen paper (if you haven't already done so) and get on with frying the next batch.
When you've finished frying the Keftedes, ensure you switch the deep fat fryer off. Clean as you would when completely cold, I like to pass the oil through a sieve to get rid of bits of fried food, clean the fryer. You can re-use the oil up to three times.
Serve the Keftedes with a simple salad and some pasta topped with a good grating of parmesan cheese, pitta bread and dips.....enjoy!!
With a few simple ingredients, you can create a lovely affordable family meal serving Keftedes alongside a salad, some warm pitta bread and dips such as taramasalata and hummus even some pasta topped with lots of parmesan. This recipe can easily be doubled and makes a great party food or snack, great the next day cold in a lunchbox. Please take care when using a deep fat fryer especially around young children.